av·​a·​lanche | \ ˈa-və-ˌlanch How to pronounce avalanche (audio) \

Definition of avalanche

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : a large mass of snow, ice, earth, rock, or other material in swift motion down a mountainside or over a precipice
2 : a sudden great or overwhelming rush or accumulation of something hit by an avalanche of paperwork
3 physics : a cumulative process in which photons or accelerated charge carriers produce additional photons or charge carriers through collisions (as with gas molecules)


avalanched; avalanching

Definition of avalanche (Entry 2 of 2)

intransitive verb

: to descend in an avalanche Snow avalanched down the mountain.

transitive verb

: overwhelm, flood The office was avalanched with applications.

Examples of avalanche in a Sentence

Noun He was buried by an avalanche.
Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Three sheep hunters were caught in an avalanche in the Chugach Mountains last week. Tess Williams, Anchorage Daily News, 13 Oct. 2021 In 2016, Grimes died in an avalanche while skiing on vacation in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. Claire Rafford, The Indianapolis Star, 29 July 2021 The most critical evidence, meanwhile, is embedded in an avalanche of pulverized debris. Washington Post, 29 June 2021 Now, as many as 159 of them were missing, likely buried somewhere in an avalanche of broken concrete and steel after half the building collapsed early Thursday morning. New York Times, 25 June 2021 Her father, an engineer, was killed in an avalanche while skiing in Switzerland in 1933. BostonGlobe.com, 5 June 2021 But Shadid’s story got buried in an avalanche of misinformation. James Harkin, Harper's Magazine, 27 Apr. 2021 The French Ski Federation said Bruno Cutelli, a ski guide, also died in the avalanche. Ryan Gaydos, Fox News, 25 Mar. 2021 The federation said a guide, Bruno Cutelli, also died in the avalanche. NBC News, 24 Mar. 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb And many of those paths, some of which are accessible from the Humphreys Peak trail, will avalanche every year. Shanti Lerner, The Arizona Republic, 4 Aug. 2021 Many of these rocks have avalanched from the walls of steep mountains. Anchorage Daily News, 16 Nov. 2019 Early pioneers of universality, led by the physicist Leo Kadanoff, discovered that systems as different as avalanching sand piles and magnetizing metals all operate on multiple scales. Quanta Magazine, 31 July 2019 Just look at any photo of Gritty: his lidless, spinning eyes; his inert tongue; his unshaven beard which avalanches over his collarbone, like a Portland bartender’s. Jason Gay, WSJ, 27 Sep. 2018 Conspiracy mogul Alex Jones’s gruff voice avalanched out of the speakers and declared war on globalists and labeled Hillary Clinton a criminal who needed to be locked away. Longreads, 31 Oct. 2017 Licht got avalanched for dealing third-round and fourth-round picks in 2016 to move into the second round to draft a kicker. Peter King, SI.com, 14 Aug. 2017 After being fourth in team defense in 2014 under Jim Schwartz, Rex Ryan’s unit got avalanched the past two seasons, finishing 19th twice with uglier analytics measurables than that. Peter King, The MMQB, 22 May 2017

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'avalanche.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of avalanche


1744, in the meaning defined at sense 1


1826, in the meaning defined at intransitive sense

History and Etymology for avalanche

Noun and Verb

French, from French dialect (Franco-Provençal) lavantse, avalantse

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Time Traveler for avalanche

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The first known use of avalanche was in 1744

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Dictionary Entries Near avalanche



avalanche conduction

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Statistics for avalanche

Last Updated

16 Oct 2021

Cite this Entry

“Avalanche.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/avalanche. Accessed 27 Oct. 2021.

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More Definitions for avalanche



English Language Learners Definition of avalanche

: a large amount of snow and ice or of dirt and rocks that slides suddenly down the side of a mountain
: a sudden great amount of something


av·​a·​lanche | \ ˈa-və-ˌlanch How to pronounce avalanche (audio) \

Kids Definition of avalanche

: a large mass of snow and ice or of earth or rock sliding down a mountainside or over a cliff


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